By Yinka Olatunbosun
INTRODUCTION: In most sub-Saharan Africa, the term “Youth” is associated with young men and women from 15 to 35 years of age. Youth in Nigeria includes all members of the Federal Republic of Nigeria aged 18-35.
By Definition, development is a process that creates growth, progress, positive change or the addition of physical, economic, environmental, social and demographic components. Therefore, Youths Development in Nigeria is basically looking at the process of positive transformation in the lives of the young men and women in Nigeria in different areas of national life. These areas include education, career, industry, science and technology, sports, politics and diplomacy. However, for the sake of this discourse, I will like to narrow down my topic to Politics and Youths Development in Nigeria.
History of Nigerian Youths in Politics
The Nigerian Youth Movement was founded in 1933 to champion the course of the youths especially in politics. It was headed by Dr. Kofo Abayomi with Ernest Ikoli as deputy while H.D. Davies was the secretary. It was the first multi-ethnic organization in Nigeria and its programme was to foster political advancement of the country and enhance the socio-economic status of the Nigerian citizens. It is interesting to know that notable past Nigerian nationalist leaders like Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Anthony Enahoro were active members of the Nigerian Youth Movememt. These were men who took up political leadership positions in Nigeria as youths. Hence, in the first republic, youths were very active in Nigeria’s politics before the military intervention. The situation however changed as prolonged military rule discouraged the youths from participating actively in politics. After the period of military rule and eventual return of democratic government, most of the politicians who took over were old recycled men and women who had been in the scene from the first and second republics. Nigeria’s current president is well in his late seventies and most of the present political office holders are well over fifty.
The Youth Renascence:
Faced with the likelihood of perpetual political exclusion in Nigeria, the Nigerian youths recently rose up and championed a bill – Not too young to run for political office, which drastically reduced the age range of those eligible to contest for political office. The bill was successfully passed at the National Assembly and was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
There is a high rate of political awareness going on among Nigerian youths especially on social media. In fact, the youths are ready to mobilize votes for one of their own who eventually emerges as a presidential candidate of any of the political party. And with the high population of the youths alone, anything is possible.
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